<a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/photo-galleries/2011/08/13/stephanies-day/">» PHOTOS: Stephanie's Day Comes To Southern California</a>

STUDIO CITY (CBS) — The CBS Radford lot was filled to capacity Saturday with scores of smiling kids, families, supporters and organizations all taking part in the first-ever “Stephanie’s Day” in Southern California.

And did we mention the smiling kids? What wasn’t to love? A “Fun Zone” for the kids with skateboarding, face-painting, balloons, food, music, performances, dancers, a photo booth…you name it. (For the record, we caught many adults also having a good time.)

110813 stephanies day dsc 0958 1st Southern California Stephanies Day Brightens, Enlightens

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The event is dear to the heart of Steve Mauldin, General Manager of CBS2/KCAL9. He started “Stephanie’s Day” fifteen years ago in Dallas in honor of his daughter who has autism.

And looking around at the large crowd he beamed. “So great to have all these families here today. There is such a need for something like this in Southern California.” Hugging his daughter he beamed some more: “She is so loving, so adorable.”

The first “Stephanie’s Day” in Southern California also had guest appearances from big names  (“Criminal Minds” star Joe Mantegna who also has a daughter with autism), CBS2 and KCAL9 personalities, CHiPs officers and their motorcycles, and more than 40 service organizations.

By all accounts, the day was a tremendous success and it would be a challenge to top this event in 2012. But Mauldin is up for the challenge. He told KCAL9’s Lisa Sigell, “It’s only going to get better next year!” he said.

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Comments (3)
  1. Judy says:

    I completely do not mean this to be unkind – but what happens to these children as they mature, and eventually have to be “on their own”, and especially if they are not the offspring of wealthy parents? I realize that some are functioning like Down children, and others are insituionalized is there a more correct picture?

    1. Autism Is Not A Burden says:

      Judy, your question of what will happen to these children as they mature is ridiculous, especially since you basically answered it yourself. There are varying degrees of autism. Those who are low-functioning will likely live with family members for the rest of their lives, or receive round-the-clock care through other resources. However, those are who high-functioning can and will have all the opportunities in life as you or I. People with autism spectrum disorders are not mentally ret@rded, so please don’t lump them together with people with Downs Syndrome. They are two completely different disorders and challenges. Having a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is an autistic spectrum disorder, who is high-functioning, I expect that she will continue to get good grades, perhaps go to college, get married one day, and hopefully have children. Maybe she will have a professional career. Who knows? But she will either fail or succeed just like any other child in this world who doesn’t have autism. But if she happened to be born in this world where she needed mine or another family member’s constant care for the rest of her life, then I would thank God for trusting me to care for one of His very special ones. Having a special needs child dependent upon you till the day you die is not a burden. They are your child, your flesh and blood. Not someone to be ashamed of. You should volunteer at these special events because it might broaden your understanding of all the autistic spectrum disorders all walks of life deal with.

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